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How can you tell the quality of a tie?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I was in a local thrift store today, and came across a couple of Lanvins, Canalis and a few other lesser-known brands that would be somewhere in that range of quality and price. But for the life of me, I can't figure out what it is that separates a good tie from a cheap mass-produced ones. The material plays a big role, of course, and so does the handiwork, but what else? What are the telltale signs of a quality tie when it's new? And what about in the long run? Holding the narrow tip of the tie to see if it twists only works on new ties, because even the Fishers and Barberas I've got do that after several knots tied. I hope my question isn't too pedestrian, because I really am interested in finding out.
post #2 of 22
A couple of things I look for: (1) Is the silk tight against the lining, or is it really loose. A poor tie often does not have the silk and the liner cut evenly, which results in silk that billows and wrinkles, etc. (2) The tightness of the weave -- is it tight or a loose weave? In a looser weave, you can really see the grain of the silk and such. These will pill more easily. If the tie is new and you already see substantial "hair like" threads around the edges, it will only get worse with wear.
post #3 of 22
Meaculpa: The chapter on neckwear is one of the longest in my book. But just to hit the high points, here's what to look for: Interlining or lining -- most modern interlinings are poly blended with wool or viscose the wool lining should run the entire length of the tie. There is direction about looking for gold stripes on the inner lining which was true about 1982 the stripes on wool linings only indicated weight not quality, a heavy tie usually requires a thinner interlining and a fine silk tie gets a heavier one but now with the use of full linings the inner lining isn't visible. The interlining can be sewn by hand, machine or automatically attached by LIBA machines. The Outer shell is comprised of three pieces, a large end (blade or apron), a small (or tail), and a neck piece (gusset), which joins the first two. Keeper -- the loop behind the wide end that the narrow end of the tie is slipped to keep it in place. May be self-fabric or a label. Look for substantial stitching or tacking for durability. Slip Stitch - a long thread that runs the length of the tie on the underside. You can find the knotted end next to the interlining. The Slip Stitch also was invented by Jesse Langsdorf in 1924 and allows the tie to return to its original shape after you've twisted it into a knot. Bar Tack -- Most quality ties will have a stitch joining the two sides on the back of the wide end, at the top of the tipping where the two sides join and make an inverted "V" there should be a small stitch anchoring the seam. Bias cut - quality ties are cut on an angle, ideally 45 degrees, which is a method introduced by Jesse Langsdorf in 1920, of cutting diagonally across the grain of a fabric allowing the tie to assume it's original shape after knotting. Allows the finished tie to lie flat and resist turning over to one side - a defect called "corkscrewing". Andy's Bias Tests - (no we're not biased, it "˜s the tie.) 1. Lay the tie on a flat surface, put one palm over the widest part the other about where the knot will be and move your palms apart, the tie should stretch slightly and go back to it's original shape when you let go. 2. Hold the tie up by its small end, if it twists it wasn't cut on the bias, but if it hangs straight it passes the test. 3. Hang the tie over your outstretched arm to make certain the narrow end lines up (centers) with the wide end. 4. The weave, or "grain" of the fabric should run diagonally across the tie. If it runs horizontally, the tie was not cut on the bias. Tipping - the fabric usually silk that is used to line the underside of the two ends. If the tipping is made from the same fabric as the shell it is called French Tipping. Some tie makers use Adler machines instead of hand stitching. The Seven-fold tie has only one piece of silk folded diagonally seven times, starting from the extremity towards the middle without any cuts thus eliminating the inner linings. This was an original way of making a tie. Andy
post #4 of 22
Here's an image I made a couple years ago as we were doing our first 7's. You can see the things Andy mentions here. I would throw in a few points: 1. All linings are not equal. Synthetic ones suck, cheap wool ones suck, very well made woolen ones are NOT that much more expensive ..a few dollars.. and make a huge difference. 2. More folds may or may not be better. In the current market there are two things called 7-fold. 90% are actually a double-4 fold construction. IMHO a 7 (we sell both constructions at the same price in our latest construction) is what I would pick for framing - the handwork is just so pretty. If I were going to use the tie for another purpose like say ...wearing it around my neck the double 4 construction is the best. 3. More than 7 folds: Horsesh.t. This is a perfect example of taking a good idea too far. I've had some shops approach me about 12-20 fold ties. Much like the "Super 200's." that fall apart when the wind blows this is an example of marketing over utility. For the best knot, the nicest hand and the satisfying heft my OPINION (IE, not fact) is that a double-4 is the best. The Seven is the most artistic, the more than 7 is foolish (does not work) and polluting fine silk by wrapping it around poly and then tipping with acetate is a crime worthy of corporal punishment. Self tipped, self looped and QUALITY wool or (occassionally if you want a 'floppy' tie linen) interlining is the minimum quality standard... Below that you get into the stuff that flies off the machines by the 1000's
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Meaculpa: The chapter on neckwear is one of the longest in my book.  But just to hit the high points, here's what to look for: Interlining or lining -- most modern interlinings are poly blended with wool or viscose    the wool lining should run the entire length of the tie.  There is direction about looking for gold stripes on the inner lining which was true about 1982 the stripes on wool linings only indicated weight not quality, a heavy tie usually requires a thinner interlining and a fine silk tie gets a heavier one but now with the use of full linings the inner lining isn't visible.  The interlining can be sewn by hand, machine or automatically attached by LIBA machines. The Outer shell is comprised of three pieces, a large end (blade or apron), a small (or tail), and a neck piece (gusset), which joins the first two. Keeper -- the loop behind the wide end that the narrow end of the tie is slipped to keep it in place.  May be self-fabric or a label.  Look for substantial stitching or tacking for durability. Slip Stitch - a long thread that runs the length of the tie on the underside.  You can find the knotted end next to the interlining.  The Slip Stitch also was invented by Jesse Langsdorf in 1924 and allows the tie to return to its original shape after you've twisted it into a knot.   Bar Tack  -- Most quality ties will have a stitch joining the two sides on the back of the wide end, at the top of the tipping where the two sides join and make an inverted "V" there should be a small stitch anchoring the seam. Bias cut - quality ties are cut on an angle, ideally 45 degrees, which is a method introduced by Jesse Langsdorf in 1920, of cutting diagonally across the grain of a fabric allowing the tie to assume it's original shape after knotting.  Allows the finished tie to lie flat and resist turning over to one side - a defect called "corkscrewing".   Andy's Bias Tests - (no we're not biased, it "˜s the tie.) 1.     Lay the tie on a flat surface, put one palm over the widest part the other about where the knot will be and move your palms apart, the tie should stretch slightly and go back to it's original shape when you let go.   2.    Hold the tie up by its small end, if it twists it wasn't cut on the bias, but if it hangs straight it passes the test. 3.    Hang the tie over your outstretched arm to make certain the narrow end lines up (centers) with the wide end. 4.    The weave, or "grain" of the fabric should run diagonally across the tie. If it runs horizontally, the tie was not cut on the bias. Tipping - the fabric usually silk that is used to line the underside of the two ends.  If the tipping is made from the same fabric as the shell it is called French Tipping.  Some tie makers use Adler machines instead of hand stitching. The Seven-fold tie has only one piece of silk folded diagonally seven times, starting from the extremity towards the middle without any cuts thus eliminating the inner linings.  This was an original way of making a tie.   Andy
Can someone post a picture showing all these details?
post #6 of 22
You could buy the book, and then you'd have all that information. I doubt Andy wants to post all the details for free when he's trying to sell the book.
post #7 of 22
Carlo: great post, great pics. That's the essence of a great tie. And after last weekend's show, I am a confirmed, committed believer that a double-four-fold is indeed superior to a true seven-fold.
post #8 of 22
Quote:
You could buy the book, and then you'd have all that information.  I doubt Andy wants to post all the details for free when he's trying to sell the book.
I didn't know it was in his book. I wasn't asking only Andy anyway but the all forum. If someone could post it from his own ties, it would be nice (for all people who have not the book). I do not understand 1/2 of the word so it is noy easy for me to understand where to look.
post #9 of 22
In an effort to improve Franco-American relations I will be glad to answer any specific question with photos Ernest.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
very well made woolen ones are NOT that much more expensive ..a few dollars
For the maker to produce the tie or for the buyer to purchase it? A bit higher in quality can translate as a lot higher in mark-up. Mathieu
post #11 of 22
Mathieu: There are a handful of folks who use the best materials. I always cut open the other's ties and inspect. Surprisingly, of the $100-$140 (expensive) designer ties of decent construction only around half use the good ones and I can only think of two off the top of my head who use the very best ones. The difference between 'good' and 'great' is somewhat trivial to the makers. From talking to a LOT of producers I can say with a good deal of confidence that the price pressure from China is forcing many tiemakers in Italy and elsewhere to look for ways to cut costs. The good liner costs more than a completed tie from China. The Chinese stuff is pumping out in numbers that are hard to comprehend. Yes, that worries me. YOU guys care about that - does the average guy even notice where his tie came from (and does he care???) Next time you ruin a tie pull it apart - see what happens to the liner if you hit it with steam or get it wet.
post #12 of 22
How much does it cost to produce the best ties (best silk and lining) compared to decent ties (leaving out the unlined 7-fold for the moment)?
post #13 of 22
Quote:
How much does it cost to produce the best ties (best silk and lining) compared to decent ties (leaving out the unlined 7-fold for the moment)?
Generally it costs between $30 and $40 inclusive of all materials and labor. Tiemakers in Italy often allow people to buy ties directly from them(except for private-label ties, of course) at wholesale cost without having to buy what are typically wholesale quantities.
post #14 of 22
Leaving out folded ties? About 50% more. For most ties the greatest cost is in advertising and supply chain overhead - if you did a pie graph of where every dollar in a $125 self tipped, well made tie went the guy who got the liner slice would go hungry. The advertising guy would weigh 400 pounds. I'm not ripping the folks who sell a standard tie for $130 - I'd like to see a few of them spend $5 more on construction and charge $135. I don't think that is the direction we've seen though, i think the direction has been to cut $3 out of the tie and spend it on advertising. In fairness, that is the smart play for most brands if they can make the $3 difference imperceptible to all but the rare weirdo who takes stuff apart. Problem: Cut $1 here and $1 there and nobody notices. Do it again next year and again and again and again. ...the difference over 5 years can be evident to the neophyte once you show them what to look for. Personally, I am betting that eventually people will get sick of that and the walmartization trend will reverse. No, not knocking WM or globalization... just sayin that I am putting my rear end on the line betting that there will be a slow but percetible move toward less 'efficient' goods toward those with a bit more quality and craftsmanship. If I am wrong... anyone willing to hire me?
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Leaving out folded ties? About 50% more.
The price range I mentioned was for (7)folded ties. I had some custom ties made up. I bought silks at an average cost of EU 20 per meter. One maker charged EU 7 to make 7-fold ties while the other charged EU 11 to make 7-fold ties. I had some ties made with the more common symmetrical 7-fold pattern and some made unlined, untipped with the Talbott-style asymettric pattern. The maker used 0.9 m of silk per symmetrical 7-fold and a little less for the untipped asymmetric 7-folds. So now, the sum totals: 7-fold: 0.9 m silk x EU 20/m silk + EU 9 for labor and, if applicable, trimming(averaged the costs) x $1.34/EU = $36.18
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